August 19, 2014

Elif Shafak: East, West, and Global Souls

Elif Şafak (born 25 October 1971, Strasbourg, France) is an outspoken Turkish author, columnist, speaker and academic. "As Turkey's bestselling female writer, Şafak is a brave champion of cosmopolitanism, a sophisticated feminist, and an ambitious novelist who infuses her magical-realist fiction with big, important ideas...". Critics have named her as "one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Turkish and world literature".

Her books have been published in more than 40 countries, and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2010.
Title: East, West, and Global Souls. Source: Boston University. Date Published: May 13, 2011. Description:
An award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey, Elif Shafak was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Campagna-Kerven Lecture. Since 1996, the annual lecture has addressed a variety of themes on modern Turkish society, culture, and politics.

Shafak has published 10 books that have been translated into more than 30 languages. She blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling, bringing out the multiple stories of minorities, immigrants, women subcultures, and "global souls." Her work draws on diverse cultures and literary traditions, as well as deep interest in history, philosophy, oral culture, and cultural politics.

Shafak writes for various daily and monthly publications in Turkey, and has been featured in major newspapers and periodicals, including the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and The Economist.

Hosted by the Boston University Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies & Civilizations on May 3, 2011.
"This is the age of migrations, of movements, of renewals. We keep reconstructing ourselves as we travel and this is the age, in many ways, of nomadic existences and global souls. I do believe there are two very opposite tendencies in today's world. On the one hand, as I've said, all these migrations, cultural encounters, are becoming more and more widespread, and there are more and more global souls. So this is one side of the picture. On the other hand, however, and paradoxically, we are also perhaps becoming more and more insular because we live in our own cultural ghettos, mental ghettos. And although this is the age of cultural encounters it is also the age of cultural misunderstandings. And I think we can misunderstanding each other a lot. So, within that framework, I believe as artists, as storytellers, perhaps we could bring those elements together, those elements that might seem very different at first glance, and see the synthesis, see the energy that comes out of that. For me, that cosmopolitan energy is very important, and perhaps that's one reason why in my books you see all these different characters coming from different cultural backgrounds, religious backgrounds. This is something that I feel strongly about." - Elif Shafak, (13:45 - 15:15 in the video below).